In my previous blog we have discussed how to take technology into the classroom and also the features of a training solution that can take technology outside the classroom. Here let us look at those features in detail.
Taking Technology OUTSIDE Classrooms
The features of this training solution are as follows:
Byte-size learning modules: Regardless of how you design the course, people can only digest some amount of information. Instead of an hour long course, you may consider 5 ten-minute courses, where you can tackle smaller topics that are easier to process. They’re small, bite-size chunks of the course content. Give them some information and then a quick way for them to apply it. Then space it over time. Spacing the information over a period of time, will help them retain what they’re learning.
On-demand training: If employees get to use the knowledge that they receive through training immediately, chances are that they retain the knowledge longer. Thus, there should be a mechanism where employees can take the training just when they need it. That way, they not only are more enthusiastic about the training program, but also get to apply the knowledge gained to the job – which is the ultimate aim of training anyway! Therefore, training needs to be systematically planned for employees, in such a way that it can be accessed by them as and when they require it, in the format most convenient for employees, at that point of time. An individual should be able to access the course in multiple formats – that is through Smartphones, iPods, tablet PCs or simple PDFs.
When such an option exists, it would be easier for employees to take the courses anytime, anywhere, such as time between meetings, or as he is waiting to board an aircraft or, even on his way to work, if it is made available in the form of podcast! Chances are that the courses receive higher participation, if made available on-demand.
Quick access to resources: Employees need a lot of resources – It could be forms, guides, templates, job aids or product and service information. It is not enough just to host trainings. What is required, is to also make training resources available in a manner that they are linked to the actual trainings. Organizations may have excellent resources, but when these are scattered all over the place, without any direction on when to use what, learners simply don’t make use of these resources. So, it is important to organize these resources carefully, link them to courses, make them available on search, through comprehensive metadata and to have experts recommend them to learners, through related discussions in the community of practice. What is important is making information available in the format that is easily usable for the employee.
Collaborative or informal learning: A lot of learning happens informally within an organization. Providing a platform to enhance and enrich this learning experience can be very fruitful to an organization. Employees encounter interesting experiences, which they can share to enrich each other’s learning experience. They can seek counseling about convincing difficult customers or selling products. Online forums, discussion boards, wikis or blogs could be integrated into the professional learning environment, where employees can interact, collaborate and learn from a larger network of professionals, within the organization.
Organizations such as Intel have created Learning Community of Practice (LCop), wherein professionals across the company, irrespective of their locations can interact, collaborate and provide value-addition to each other, in a dynamic learning environment. It is an ideal learning and training solution for decentralized organizations. Companies can create their own Wikis, blogging pages and Podcasts and solicit employee participation.
Organizations can moderate groups on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and so on, where informal peer-to-peer interaction takes place. Stimulating questions related to products, customer queries etc. can be posed to make the group lively and interactive. Seeking help through normal channels may be time-consuming and in all probability, a sales person might not even have access to the right person. Having a panel of experts, to answer queries in the learning environment, makes it easy for the sales person to seek help. Such a facility can be easily incorporated into the existing LMS or company intranet.
Virtual classrooms: Virtual classrooms are the quickest way to leverage technology for learning. You don’t need any eLearning courses for this, but just virtual meeting software, such as Adobe Connect. The instructor can schedule a session and have geographically dispersed participants log on. Most universities, both in India and abroad, are beginning to implement this. One of the advantages is that these sessions can be recorded by the virtual meeting software itself and made available to others, who couldn’t attend the live session.
It is very important to plan before designing a training program for them. Training format such as the above, best suits their personalities and will ensure that they are groomed successfully to accept future responsibilities.